Quebec legalises euthanasia

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Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard in the National Assembly this week.    

Quebec has become the first Canadian province to legalise euthanasia. Bill 52 easily passed in the National Assembly yesterday by a vote of 94 to 22. “I want to congratulate ourselves as parliamentarians,” said Carole Poirier, of the Parti Quebecois. “Quebec is a beautiful society, and again today Quebec has just shown that we are really, really a different society.”

Under the new law, an adult who is terminally ill, of sound mind, and in constant and unbearable physical and psychological pain may request a lethal injection. Quebec now joins the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg as the fourth jurisdiction in which euthanasia is legal. Assisted suicide is legal in across the border in Washington state and Oregon, but not euthanasia. 

The battle over the controversial law is not over, however.… click here to read whole article and make comments



Deacon arrested over Belgian euthanasia deaths

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Breaking news from a number of sources says that Belgian police have charged a 57-year-old man with 10 cases of illegal euthanasia. The man, identified as a Catholic deacon from the town of Wevelgem, was working in the Sacred Heart Hospital in Menin until 2002. Afterwards he continued part-time as a pastoral assistant until 2011.  The deaths seem to have taken place between the early 1980s and 2011.

Belgium’s euthanasia laws came into effect in 2002 presumably rendering any euthanasia deaths before that time subject to the Belgian criminal code on homicide.

The fact that these deaths are supposed to have occurred in a Catholic Hospital at the hands of a man holding the position of Deacon will be a significant embarrassment to the Catholic Church in Belgium. The Diocese of Bruges has commented that "Euthanasia and Deacon are two words that should not be in… click here to read whole article and make comments



Why would a euthanasia practitioner tour Auschwitz?

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Tourists at the entrance to Auschwitz   

The leading practitioner of euthanasia in Belgium, Dr Wim Distelmans, is organizing an instructional tour to Auschwitz,  the Nazi extermination camp in October. In an invitation for healthcare professionals he describes Auschwitz as an ‘inspiring’ surrounding in which to ‘clarify confusion about euthanasia’.

In fact, Dr Distelmans’s tour does help to clarify matters: it shows that how little distance there is between Belgian euthanasia in 2014 and Nazi death camps in 1944.

Linking the right to die and the Nazis is a no-no in most circles. In fact, opponents are usually deemed to have lost the argument as soon as they mention the word “Nazi”. But Dr Distelmans’s breath-taking initiative could change that rule. To hold a seminar on euthanasia in an extermination camp where the idea of ‘lives not worth living’ took its most extreme form, is… click here to read whole article and make comments



When life sentences draw to a close

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Angola State Prison in Louisiana is one of the largest maximum security prisons in the world. Louisiana’s sentencing laws are strict and half of the 5,000 inmates will die in prison. This is a very moving documentary about men coming to the end of their sentence and the men who care for them. Brilliant. 

click here to read whole article and make comments


SUNDAY, 4 MAY 2014

Botched executions and euthanasia

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It is false that “medical aid in dying” always provides a quiet death. No, euthanasia is a violent gesture, for the person killed as well as for the physician.

Those who wish to legalise “medical aid in dying” state that we must give an easier death for those at end of life. They say that euthanasia is the way to do it. However, there are clear indications that euthanasia often is a rather violent death.

Let’s take the recent cases of two death-row inmates, Clayton Lockett and Dennis McGuire, where the execution by lethal injection went extremely badly. Lockett took 26 minutes to die. Witnesses say that he was gasping for breath the whole time. McGuire died more than an hour after the injection, from a heart attack, after the injection ruptured a vein, botching the execution. Yet, it is the executioner’s job to conduct these procedures properly.

click here to read whole article and make comments



Belgium: accelerating down the slippery slope

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Involuntary euthanasia is acceptable medical treatment, according to a recent official statement by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Although voluntary euthanasia is legal is Belgium under some circumstances, involuntary euthanasia is basically illegal.

The Society has decided (decreed may be a better word) that it is acceptable medical practice to euthanase patients in critical care who do not appear to have long to live -- even if they are not suffering, even if they are not elderly, even if their relatives have not requested it, even if they have not requested it and even if it is not legal.

The Society spells out its policy very carefully. It is not about grey areas like withdrawing burdensome or futile treatment or balancing pain relief against shortening a patient’s life. It clearly states that “shortening the dying process by administering sedatives beyond what is needed for… click here to read whole article and make comments



Hard cases make bad euthanasia laws

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The pro-euthanasia lobby often promotes media reports of people facing difficult prognoses who wish to end their lives rather than face inevitable deterioration. Such persons often become, for a short while, celebrities for a macabre cause. The media attention can even become addictive and provide, a distraction from their suffering or a raison d’etre.

But are these stories really a substantive reason for changing the law? I would argue, no.

In a debate in Launceston, Tasmania, a few years back a delightful woman on the other side of the debate told the story of her husband who had motor neurone disease and took his own life rather than face the trajectory of deterioration. She described the understood trajectory of MND in some detail. I imagine that she was describing a worst-case scenario.

One could easily understand the anguish of what her late husband was facing: he was… click here to read whole article and make comments



A recession is no time for assisted suicide, says disabled British peer

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Moves to legalise assisted suicide in Britain are a threat to the disabled during a time of economic hardship, says Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, a disabled peer. She told the London Telegraph that it was “a dangerous time” to consider to consider changes to legislation when people on welfare were being described as scroungers who are a burden on society.

Relaxing the law on assisted suicide would amount to an open invitation for relatives or carers to pressure people with disabilities to do away with their lives, she said.

The British House of Lords is currently debating the guidelines on prosecuting people who help loved ones to commit suicide. Baroness Campbell, who has suffered from a serious degenerative illness since childhood, is strongly opposed to altering the guidelines to mitigate penalties if the deceased had suffered from a disability.  

“Terminally ill and disabled people are in a… click here to read whole article and make comments



Why euthanasia slippery slopes can’t be prevented

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I have been receiving emails from people, including some with disabilities, who are angry about my opposition to legalizing euthanasia. The people with disabilities are not dying; they just do not want to continue living in the state in which they find themselves. It’s clear they believe they would be able to have access to euthanasia were it to be legalized.

Pro-euthanasia advocates claim, however, that only members of the “end-of-life population” – who they might be is not defined – will have access and that legalized euthanasia will be rarely used. They believe “sensible regulation” (the Globe and Mail’s editors’ term) will ensure such rarity and that no logical slippery slope (the groups allowed access to euthanasia continually expand) or practical slippery slope (euthanasia is abused or used outside the regulations governing it) will result.

To decide who is correct, we need to tease out several… click here to read whole article and make comments



Euthanasia of newborns under the microscope

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Euthanasia is defined as the act of intentionally ending the life of a terminally ill and suffering person in a quick and painless manner for reasons of compassion and mercy.

Euthanasia was practiced by the ancients. The term means “good death,” and the practice was to allow the patient to die in peace and with dignity. For the physician, it would mean caring for the patient and alleviating pain and suffering. However, the physician of ancient times could also cause the death of the patient. One physician would heal; another would provide the poison draught to cause the death of the patient.

The Oath of Hippocrates (ca. 500 BC) was the first attempt from a group of concerned physicians to establish a set of ethical principles that defined the physician as healer, rejecting the role of executioner. The principle of “primum non nocere,” first do no harm, from where the modern concepts of… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at

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